Saturday, June 30, 2012

My first mud run

We started in waves based on bib number. This was to minimize bottlenecks on the course. Given that there were more than 450 participants on a course no more than 5k long this was essential. Of course there was no way they could eliminate bottlenecks completely on this course. All this means is that the first people out on the first wave had a chance to move through the course considerably faster. But so what? Under no circumstances would I be in danger of winning the the race.
They counted twenty obstacles, including some wall climbs, tires, water, and some fantastic mud. It also included running up a hill and along a trail. So maybe it should only be counted as 18.
I opted to do the run in my five fingers shoes, rather than my normal running shoes. This was absolutely the right choice for me. I was able to zip through the thickest mud without losing my shoes, do my climbs and scrambles more easily, and swim through several of the water obstacles almost without noticing I was wearing shoes. I only saw one other person who made the same call on shoes and they definitely got a lot of comments.
I'm not really sure about the etiquette on mud run obstacles. I tried to avoid cutting ahead of people it seemed mostly rude, sometimes dangerous and occasionally impossible. I felt much better jogging past people between the obstacles; there were a lot of folks who mostly walked.
I finished the thing with relative ease and had, I will claim, as much fun as anyone on the course. I think I should do another one of these things.


So here is an event that is a real change of pace for me.

Who: Northwest CT YMCA
What: The 2012 Wyld Mud Run
When: June 30th 2012
Where: John A. Minetto State Park
Why: A fun change of Pace

This was my first ever Mud Run and the first time the local Y organized a mud run Overall I thought it was pretty great.

Friday, June 29, 2012


I could really feel the heat on my run yesterday. I don't think it was over 90 and yet the heat really had an effect. A 4.6 mile run is on the upper edges of what I will undertake without water breaks. I might, under some circumstances, stretch it out to 6. But since it is long-ish for a run with no water stops I need to be that much more careful about being fully hydrated before I head out.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

a few more

Maybe the weather will permit me a lake training session today.  At this point I'm not to worried about training volume. I would like to keep a fairly regular training schedule and get a few more chances to work on feeds from the kayak.

Monday, June 25, 2012


I did my speed work today. Only I wasn't thinking about swimming fast. I was trying to pay attention to my body position and my stroke, especially the entry. It felt very demanding. Definitely very good conditioning. But I didn't ever feel like I was struggling to make the interval. Afterwards I threw in 200 yards of butterfly. One lap at a time, but one lap at a time is how you build.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

my finish

Yeah, I was supposed to come in on the other side of that rope. Oh well

Not-so-super Swim

The campsite where we stayed was on the north side of John's Pond, right next to the town beach where the race is held. So it was easy to make breakfast and then stroll right over to the start. My trouble was, it was a hot night, and I woke up thirsty. I didn't figure this would be a problem. They would have water before the race. Well, I was wrong about that. This was not a disaster, I just jogged back over the campsite in order to refill some water bottles. But I'm not sure I got enough water into me before the start of the race.
The course is a half-mile triangular loop course. That means 6 times around for the 3.1 miles. Six times around and a little bit more. There was a 1/2 mile race as well as a 1 mile race. Everybody starts at once and swims on the same course. Needless to say things are a bit crowded at the start, The 5k and the half mile starts together with an in water start. I waded in about waist deep as we lined up and I thought the was was cold. I wasn't really expecting cold to be a problem for me in this race.
They blew their siren and we were off. Considering the mass start it wasn't all that bad. No bad collisions, no kicks to the face. I decided I would do my count from the tetrahedral buoy furthest from shore. So I counted "one" as I made that turn. Since this was an acute triangular course all the turns were sharper than 90 degrees. I felt like my turns were sloppy and slow.  I was surprised that I still found  a few 1 milers on my third loop. I was just beginning to think that the course was too small for things to really open up when suddenly I found myself alone. There was a large gap ahead and a large gap behind.
Despite the simplicity of the course I still had a little trouble with navigation. The entire course was marked by three buoys, and on the longer legs of the triangle the next buoy was very difficult to spot. This usually meant several strokes of breaststroke while I located the buoy and got myself pointed at it. The buoy was just too small of a speck for me to see with a quick sighting. I was consistently drifting to my right on the way out and to my left on the way back in. That matches the direction of the wind so maybe my drifting isn't all that mysterious. By the time I was on my second loop I was amazed I could have ever thought the water was cold. I was hot. I actually had that feeling of being a little too warm that I usually only get during a pool workout.
Near the end of my fifth loop  another swimmer blew past me on the turn. I figured this guy is already coming in for the finish maybe I can see where he goes. But I lost track of him and so I started my last loop without knowing where exactly the finish line was.  I kept looking for my oomph. I wanted to put on a little speed for the finish. But I just didn't have it. I moseyed on in to the end of the race and swam right past the finish, because I didn't know where it was or what I should be looking for. My official time: 1:35 something. Considerably slower than my previous 5k races. I'm disappointed with my finishing time but after all I only have two other races to compare it to. At this point I can hardly even guess what the problem is. Was I slightly dehydrated? did I sleep poorly? Was my navigation adding a lot of distance? The title of this post is my feelings about my swim.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Cape Cod

This was, as best as I can recall, my first trip to cape cod. It was also my third 5k and the first time we camped out the night before. All previous swims have launched from home or from a hotel room, so that was an added logistical challenge. Anyway the basics.

Who: Mashpee Recreation
What: The 23rd annual Cape Cod Superswim
When: June 23rd 2012
Where: John's Pond, Mashpee MA
Why: Because MIMS sounds like a bit much

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Something different

Took the boat out on the lake today. It was my son's first boat ride. We even got him into the water (wearing his life jacket of course) We'll have that little guy trained up in no time.

go again

Another warm day today. Time to get ready for another weekend adventure. These adventure are really coming at me fast. Anyway Saturday, for me, is the Cape Cod Superswim. Here's hoping the weather will be ok. There's an AM rain prediction now.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Go jump in a lake

It was, is, hot today. I got in some beautiful lake swimming with my coach in the early hours of morning. Wait is 7:30 the early hours? Anyway three trips across the lake was a great way to start the day. And a decent way to keep cool.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

more big fun

So the Son of a Swim gives it away. My big event for this season is the Kingdom 10mile.  But I've got more events planned. I'm having a tremendous time at all of these swims so far. Almost every swim is a personal best because I've never competed at that distance before.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Big lake swimming

So this was the biggest and the smallest event that I've done so far. Eight swimmers altogether. Four doing six miles and, I think, two each doing 4 miles and 2 miles. The official water temperature they gave us just before the start was 65 degrees. We suited up, greased up, and we got a group photo just a little before the start. Looking at it now it is not obvious that I am nervous. But I most definitely was.
We got the kayaks launched and the wind pushed them off to the right. The eight of us waded just past knee deep into the water and then, as one, hesitated. I stood there thinking how very cold the water felt and wondering if I could really do 6 miles at this temperature. Then Phil sounded the horn on his boat and it was time to stop being nervous and start swimming. It was a pretty good jumble. As much of a jumble as you can make with only 8 swimmers and 8 kayaks. I just pointed myself at the first buoy and tried not to cause any collisions. I figured wifey, who was my kayaker, would be able to pick me up after the buoy. As it turned out,  she picked me right up even before the buoy. As I  made the turn and set out for the second buoy I caught a look at one other swimmer already way out ahead of me. That was the last time I saw another swimmer. It was just me and wifey in the kayak. Not exactly typically romantic but I kept thinking how wonderfully sweet it was.
The third bouy was also the one mile mark, and just past it I had my first feed. I had prepared six bottles apple juice, diluted about 50/50. They had around 12oz each. I expected that would be more than I would want at most of my feedings. But when I got the first one, sun warmed and sweet, I eagerly drank every drop.
I got my second feeding at the fourth buoy, which was also the 2 mile mark, and again I drank the whole thing. By the third mile I was actually feeling pretty good. I was beginning to think I could do some real distance at this temperature. When we arrived at the last buoy which was the three mile mark I saw Phil in his boat. I guess he was taking pictures. He asked me how the water was and I told him it wasn't bad. He shouted that it was all downhill from here. I got another feeding and we set off on the return trip.
Downhill, maybe but upwind. In fairness it was not such a terribly strong wind. And the chop it was generating as not all that big. But it was enough to feel a big difference. Mile 4 was considerably more difficult than mile 3. But it was not until the 4 mile mark that I had some real problems. Wifey grabbed the next bottle for feeding but with sunscreen on her hands she could not pop off the little plastic cap. After struggling for a minute we decided that I should give it a try. Wifey came back around and right when she was about to give me the bottle my left calf cramped up. It came on so powerfully I barely had the presence of mind to not grab the kayak. This was a serious, potentially swim ending, cramp. It took me several tries before I finally was able to stretch it out. Right when I thought I had fixed it, it cramped right back up again. I guess the cold water was having more of an effect than I had thought a mile earlier.
Once I finally got my leg sorted out. I got the bottle from wifey and, not being in a mood to mess around, simply bit the cap right off and, once again, drained it. The fifth mile was still upwind and right into the chop. And most of the time I was doing a funny lopsided kick to keep my leg from cramping up. At the 5 mile mark wifey was kind enough to bite the cap off for me for what should be my last feed of the swim.  At this point I could feel a colder layer of water just an arms length below the surface. I was afraid to tread water for more than a moment because I thought the colder layer might cause my leg to cramp up again. I think that was the only bottle that I didn't drain. I was starting to feel an empty feeling in my stomach but rather than mess around with more solid food I decided to just bring it home and eat on shore. For most of the last mile I could feel that colder layer below me. My stroke would bring my fingers through it almost every time. The last mile was the only time I bothered to sneak a peak at the next buoy. It was also the only time I swam into the kayak. We finally rounded the last buoy and I didn't even try to make a sprint into shore. I just kept my stroke going, then there were lake weeds reaching up to graze my belly. And then the shore, which never seemed to get any closer was there. I grabbed the ground with both hands and got my feet under me. I waded out of the water to the cheers of the 4 milers and the one 6 miler that I had lost sight of more than three hours back.
Then I made a beeline for the car where I knew I had a chocolate bar.

Son of a Swim

What: An official qualifier for Kingdom Swim
When: June 16th 2012
Where:  Newport VT in Lake Memphremagog
Why: To qualify for the Kingdom 10-mile

The course is a simple out and back and it includes a 2, 4 and 6 mile option

Thursday, June 14, 2012

2 days

Did my run today. Tomorrow we hit the road for Newport VT. I really hope I can get the straps holding the kayak on the roof of the car to stop buzzing. That will drive me all kinds of crazy in short order. Just a few more snacks and it's time to sack out.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

almost there

Did a quick dip in the lake to practice signaling and feeding today. This weekend will be our first long swim with wifey as my kayaker. We're feeling pretty good overall. Pretty low volume the last two weeks, but you can't cram for en endurance event anyway. One more training day tomorrow and we will be off.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Son of a...

Swim. That's right. This weekend, Newport VT. This will be my biggest race so far. 6 Miles in mighty Memphremagog is my goal. There are, I believe, only 3 other swimmers undertaking this distance at this time so it will also be my smallest.
The distance is no joke, but I've covered it quite a few times in the pool. And I've done some good open water distance these past few weeks. Although not more than 5k continuous or about 3.5 miles in a day.
Wifey and I got in some good practice with the kayak. Now that I have a good idea of how close to the kayak I should be I haven't been crashing into her. (hint: it is closer to 12 feet than to 6)
I've figured out a little about water temperature and I think that it will be ok, even in Vermont.

Correction: I swam 4.1 miles in open water at the Jim McDonnell Lake swim on the saturday


I almost talked myself out of putting those extra pounds on my deadlift. You know, the pounds I was talking about adding last week? Yeah. I but I failed to talk myself out of it but instead went for it. It felt harder. But also pretty solid. A good deadlift is one of the most satisfying things in a workout. There is something so very simple about it. See that? Pick it up. Now put it down. That's your workout. repeat as needed.
Anyway I was all ready to make an excuse because of this weekend. But I am glad I didn't

Friday, June 8, 2012


After being beautiful all day when it is time to swim it clouds up. Well i'm going in anyhow

Thursday, June 7, 2012

road work

Beautiful day today. Jogged my normal loop. I am really enjoying getting faster. I say to myself "conditioning, conditioning, conditioning" as I run up the hills.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

not crashing into the kayak

Did a session in the lake with Wifey kayaking for me. It went great. I didn't crash into the kayak once. There was a light breeze, too. This is very important practice for some upcoming swims.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

pile it on

I think it might be time to add more weight to my deadlift, again. For a while I was adding weight almost every week. Right now I seem to repeat the same poundage three or four or five times.
I see strength training as a constant balancing act. I need to keep pushing for additional strength, meaning I want to add weight to the big lifts as often as possible. But I also need to avoid hurting undoing weeks or months of work, meaning I need to add weight slowly and safely. It really helps that I have no particular deadline.

Monday, June 4, 2012

emphasis on the work

So, I made it through my speed work this afternoon. Not surprisingly, after a busy weekend, it was a bit of a struggle. I do believe that these workouts make a difference, even though they continue to happen in the pool.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

In the lake

I met up with my coach for some lake swimming. Absolutely beautiful day. Nothing like yesterday at all. Also got in more than three miles and it felt fantastic. I've got to find some stronger sun protection though; I think I got a little burned on my back. I guess this is when I start buying up diaper cream for the zinc oxide. After all this wonderful open water swimming I could almost skip my monday pool workout. But I still think that my speed work is too valuable (and too productive) to slack off of it.

Alone in the middle of the Hudson River

So the race started at 11:30, check in at 10. So that means wake up, eat breakfast, get ready and go. Poughkeepie is just around an hour out so leaving the house at 9 feels pretty civilized. It is no exaggeration to say the weather was miserable. Overcast, cold, and alternating between raining a lot and only raining a little bit. When we found the starting line it looked pretty sparse. Just a handful of swimmers and volunteers mostly staying out of the drizzle under the tent. I passed the time drinking  blue gatorade and then running off to the porta-john.
I was worried about the colder water and about the current and chop. I was also worried that swimming under the bridges would trigger a sense of vertigo that I sometimes get, kind of like a fear of heights. So naturally I was signed up to swim 5k and see how I dealt with all of that.
After getting a head count of swimmers at the starting line, and with zero ceremony they started a countdown from ten and we were off. This was the biggest mass start I've been a part of so far, and we had to turn around a buoy just about a hundred meters from shore so things seemed pretty crazy for a while. I tried to relax, not get kicked in the face and wait for things to open up. There were three buoys marking the triangle turn to be made around the easternmost stanchion of the mid-hudson bridge. As we rounded these buoys most of my attention was on avoiding bad collisions with very little to spare for whether passing under the bridge would make me feel small and dizzy.  I set my sights on the walkway over the Hudson some 900M north against the current and my stroke fell apart. I was swimming directly into some waves, possibly the wake of a moderately sized boat and I was having trouble adjusting my breathing so as not to get a lungfull of riverwater. When paused in my struggle and looked around I had lost sight of every other swimmer and most of the support boats. There I was, as the title of this post suggests. For all I knew I was in dead last, after all it was a pretty small field. Surprisingly these things did not cause me to feel nervous and upset.  With about 1K of 5 behind me I finally started to feel pretty good. I pointed myself at the walkway bridges and kept going.
It turns out that I had not been left behind as much as I thought because I met up with a few other swimmer when I finally found my way to the walkway over the hudson and rounded the triangle turn. While trying to cross back under the walkway I had the distinct impression that I was swimming in place under the bridge. This would not be the last time I felt that way. Once I cleared the walkway I was heading south again and with the current. I actually had another swimmer with me for a while, until I wandered off course, or perhaps the current nudged me.
I caught a glance at the starting buoy when I was about 50 yards past it. This worried me. "How am I ever going to spot that on my next time around?",  I wondered to myself.
While rounding the three buoys at the mid-hudson bridge I overtook a group of swimmers. I was already several strokes ahead of them before I realized they were wearing yellow caps instead of green. The 2.5k'ers. I figured if they started 45mins behind us and these are the first yellow caps I'm seeing then I am way off my pace for this swim. Oh well, I was still feeling good, and if it took me longer to finish at least I would know I could handle the extra time in the water. On my way back to the walkway I overtook maybe two more yellow caps. And while I was rounding the buoys I spotted two green caps as well. I tried to pour on some power for the last few hundred meter, but I felt like the current was throwing me around. Somehow I caught a look a the finish buoy and I was able to head straight for it. Actually the river was pushing me closer to shore so I had to adjust my course a few times. I rounded the buoy and started what I thought would be the final push into shore. The current threw me off course in about ten strokes, but I managed to get in eventually. I stepped onto shore carefully, they recorded my finish and another swim hits my personal record books.

2 bridges

So lets start with the basic info before I get into my own experience.

Who: and CIBBOWS
What: The first ever 2 Bridges Swim under the walkway
When: Jun 2nd 2012
Where: The Hudson River at Poughkeepsie NY
Why: Because you think big rivers are awesome

So this was the first ever 2 bridges swim. There was no swag bag, no chip timing, and just a skeleton crew of volunteers. But I had a pretty great time

(I'm the one with the beard)

Friday, June 1, 2012


Tomorrow is the second weekend of my first ever open water season. Poughkeepsie is actually close enough to qualify as local. The water should be considerably colder than in Virginia last week. About 68-71 as compared to 76-78.  Also it looks like there is a chance of rain. I hope that doesn't turn out to be a problem. I'm taking today off swimming to keep my shoulders fresh.